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Arriving in the UK as an International Student

So, you have your visa and everything is in order. Flight’s booked and you’ve just had your vaccines (ouch!). But what should you expect when you arrive? Is there anything you need to do upon arrival? Well, don’t panic. That’s what this article is for.


What Should I Have On Me?

Essential items that you must bring with you include your passport, visa, acceptance letter from you university or institution, insurance papers, scholarship details and money (£200-250 should be enough to have on you, put the rest in your UK bank account when you get one). You will most likely need a laptop and any books you have already brought. If you want to pack light, then you may want to buy your books, more clothes and toiletries, cleaning and cooking stuff when you arrive. Your university will tell you what they need you to bring and what they provide. Other than that, just use your common sense on what you will need.


Book Your Airport Pickup/Meeting Service

To reduce your stress about arriving in the UK, most universities have some sort of meeting service. An ambassador of the university will meet you at the airport, accompany you to the university, help you enrol and help with moving into your new home. However, most universities will require you to register for this service beforehand, but it is usually free. If you don’t have this option, then it wouldn’t be hard to find your way to the university on public transport or taxi. If you need any help, the information desk at the airport will be glad to assist you.


Airport Security

Going through airport security can be a long and daunting task, but you shouldn’t need to worry. Arrive at the airport in good time at your home country and make sure you don’t have anything with you that you shouldn’t have (such as blades and matches). When you arrive, you’ll pass through airport security and then go to immigration. Make sure you have all your papers with you and be prepared to wait awhile. Once they are happy you are who you say you are, they will let you enter.


Register with the Police, if necessary

If you’re a resident of a country that isn’t part of the Commonwealth, and you intend to stay for more than 6 months, you may need to register with the police within seven days of your arrival.

Nationals of the following countries are usually required to register with the police:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, PR China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Korea (North), Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Peru, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Yemen. 

For details on where to register, please speak to your university.


Register with a Doctor

If you are eligible for NHS Healthcare, then you will need to register with your local doctor’s surgery. You can do this by simply going to the surgery and requesting a registration form. If you are not eligible for free healthcare on the NHS, then you will need to arrange private healthcare.

For more information, visit http://www.educationuk.org/Article/Health-advice-for-UK-international-students.


Open a Bank Account

Having a UK bank account is very important. It will allow you to pay your tuition and accommodation fees, get paid (if you choose to get a job) and keeps your money safe. Getting a bank account as an international student can take time and patience, as different banks have different processes for non-UK citizens, so make sure you have enough money to cover you for a few weeks. Avoid carrying cash; use a credit card or traveller’s cheques instead, if you can.

Before coming to the UK, it will be a good idea to prepay your tuition and/or accommodation fees by bank transfer. You can also ask your current bank if they can advise you in opening a UK bank account or if you are able to use your cash card from your home bank in the UK. Some have special relationships with UK banks to make it easier for you to open an account if you can’t use your own card. You can also try opening a bank account online before coming to the UK.

Note, to open a UK bank account, you will need your passport, your offer letter with your overseas address and your accommodation contract. If you don’t have these, then your university may be able to issue a document confirming your details.


Meet your Tutor, Go to the Induction Programme and Attend the Fresher’s Fair

After you have arrived, enrolled and moved into your new home, it is time for you to start university. You will first meet your tutor and do a short induction programme, lasting a few days. Then it’s Fresher’s week, where you can meet your new classmates, look for work, join clubs and societies and have fun.


So, that roughly covers most of what you need to know. Make sure you talk to your university to see what they will require you to do exactly. All universities are slightly different when it comes to the arrival period. Besides that, good luck in your new university course!

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